To the Editor:
My son drove into our yard in Bristol after a Saturday morning trip from Massachusetts to pick up their children with whom we had spent a delightful week. Mike greeted me with these words. “I’d forgotten what an adventure it was to come to Maine on a Saturday morning in summer, but we didn’t get stuck in Wiscasset traffic this time.”
As they came through Brunswick, they consulted their global positioning device, which provided them with an alternative route around Wiscasset. “It was great, no traffic; it was a really pleasant drive. We wound up in Damariscotta Mills, drove through Damariscotta and here we are.”
Could this be a solution to the Wiscasset bottleneck, a solution that doesn’t involve displacing people, eliminating woodlands, or endangering wetlands?
Perhaps we could welcome summer guests at the Turnpike entrance with a brochure, CD or DVD explaining how to by-pass Wiscasset using existing roads through lovely Maine villages. Residents of those villages and businesses along the alternative routes might benefit from the tourist traffic. Commercial traffic could continue to use Rt. 1. Visitors would get a sense of the real Maine rather than an extension of the urban environments they are seeking to escape.
For those who think that eliminating traffic through Wiscasset will hurt Wiscasset business, forget it. People who are so stressed out from the snail’s pace of several miles of traffic see the Davey Bridge in front of them and sail by Red’s Eats, Sarah’s Restaurant and all of the antique shops and boutiques that line Rt. 1. Actually the Wiscasset bottleneck leads many year rounders who might travel south to shop, to head north to Rockland instead.
Perhaps a fraction of the money that would be spent on a by-pass could be spent improving existing roads, even adding bicycle lanes and turnouts. Traffic engineers, accustomed to building highways to speed the flow of traffic, may scoff at the idea of diverting traffic to make the travel experience more enjoyable. However the application of their skills and training to do just that may be a worthwhile endeavor.
The Wiscasset bypass has been on the table for years. Is it time to think outside the box, recognizing that a sustainable approach to automobile travel may be to make it more meaningful and enjoyable rather then simply fast?
Bob Hardina, Bristol